Earth Day & International Mother Earth Day--What's the Difference?

Did you know that Earth Day is also known as "International Mother Earth Day"? In addition, Mother Earth's birthday is being tied to important environmental discussions at the UN. According to Huffington Post contributor Bron Taylor, the 2009 decision to update the April 22nd holiday's moniker to "International Mother Earth Day" is a result of a South American reverence for nature (most notably, Bolivia's legal approach to environmental/spiritual practices).

The new moniker sounds a lot like an art project, too. Read this passage and contemplate the importance of visual aids in such initiatives:

The idea was to paint Earth Day (first celebrated in 1970) in a darker shade of green, valuing nature for its own sake, professing that ecosystems and non-human organisms should be conferred legal rights.
Artists such as Judy Chicago have called up earth goddess symbolism, which dates back to Paleolithic art/history. Her famous collaborative project, The Dinner Party, reinvented the longstanding tradition of representing womens' bodies as manifestations of nature itself. The trope was described on The Brooklyn Museum's wiki, and explained that:

Worship of the Primordial Goddess flourished during the Upper Paleolithic era, and many scholars believe that during this period, the female body was used to explain the phenomena that prehistoric people observed in nature. The goddess, as the divine creator, was mirrored in each woman's body...Stylized images of the female body have been found on cave floors, most of them emphasizing only one body part, such as the breasts, genitals, or buttocks; this anatomical emphasis may have linked the feature's biological function with other observable processes in nature, such as animal reproduction, the growth and flowering of plants, or the cycles of the moon.
How do dinner plates change the motif of this anthropomorphizing technique? In addition, how does it affect the message if the whole body cannot be contained in one plate? To give you an idea of the scope of the project, here are a couple of images of the completed installation:

The Dinner PartyImage by JoetheLion via Flickr

Below is an image of an individual plate, which was dedicated to Georgia O'Keeffe.

The Dinner Party: Georgia O'KeeffeImage by IslesPunkFan via Flickr

O'Keeffe's own work tends to be interpreted as an extension of the female body, and it should be noted that the artist did not necessarily agree with that reading, as summarized in this thoughtful article in New York magazine. In terms of O'Keeffe's struggle for critical "success," I'd like to raise a related question: How will the intellectual (and subsequently, cultural) gaps affect environmental activism if the earth goddess symbol is adopted in UN matters? This could get interesting...

Stieglitz's Portrait of Georgia O'KeefeGeorgia O'Keefe / Martin Beek via Flickr

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